What is Buddhism's stand on alcohol?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Buddhist faith is generally opposed to the use of alcohol or any other intoxicants.  This does not mean that all Buddhists refrain from drinking at all times, but alcohol is generally seen as a bad thing.

This fact can be seen in the fact that alcohol is forbidden in one of the Five Precepts of Buddhism.  These are not absolute commandments to all Buddhists, but they are strong suggestions to those who wish to become better people.  The fifth precept forbids intoxicants because they lead to “heedlessness.”  Heedlessness, in essence, is a lack of attention to what is good for you and for other people.  If you use alcohol, you tend to break down your inhibitions.  You stop worrying so much about what is right for you to do.  This, to Buddhists, is a bad thing.  It makes you much more likely to do something that will harm yourself (spiritually speaking).  Because you are more prone to do such things while drinking, drinking is discouraged.

Thus, while there is no explicit commandment that says that a Buddhist may never drink, intoxicants are very much frowned upon in Buddhism.

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